Nearly perfect, Williams gets 300th Slam win at Wimbledon
LONDON >> Serena Williams has won so many Grand Slam matches that she's lost count.
Then again, as she noted Sunday, it's her losses that get a lot more attention nowadays.
Looking much more ready for Week 2 at Wimbledon than she did in her previous outing, Williams joined Martina Navratilova as the only women with 300 victories at major tournaments in the Open era by overwhelming Annika Beck 6-3, 6-0 in 51 minutes to get to the fourth round.
"Every time I step out on the court, if I don't win, it's major national news," Williams said a day after her counterpart in the men's draw, No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic, was ousted. "But if I do win, it's just like a small tag in the corner."
Pushed to three sets her last time out, Williams was about as dominant as can be against her 43rd-ranked German opponent. Nearly perfect, even.
Williams won the last 17 points she served. She won 24 of the last 28 points overall. She accumulated 25 winners to two for Beck.
Afterward, the six-time Wimbledon champion was asked whether she knew she had reached a milestone by getting her 300th Grand Slam match win, breaking a tie with Chris Evert for second place behind Navratilova's total of 306.
"No. Was it? Cool. Oh, nice," the 34-year-old American said with a laugh. "I had no idea. That's awesome, right? That's good, right?"
She's now 300-42, an .877 winning percentage, and will go for No. 301 right away: All 16 men's and women's fourth-round matches are scheduled for Monday, when Williams faces two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Yes, thanks to sun on Sunday, the tournament is all caught up after persistent rain left a backlog of matches. This was only the fourth time since The Championships, as they're called around these parts, began 139 years ago that matches were played on the middle Sunday.
On the other three occasions — 1991, 1997, 2004 — fans lined up overnight to buy tickets that normally are so difficult, and expensive, to come by, creating a loud festival of flag-waving, face-painted folks thrilled to be on-site for once. This time, seats could only be purchased online, and there was a far-less-vibrant vibe than in the past on what was known as "People's Sunday."
"I thought it would feel really different," Williams said, asked to compare this day with an average one at the grass-court Grand Slam, "but it didn't feel really different."
If anything, this middle Sunday was oddly subdued. Silent, even. Arenas were filled with rows and rows of unclaimed green chairs. Spectators applauded politely, if at all. Walkways around the grounds were easy to traverse.
"Strange feeling, a little bit," said No. 7 Richard Gasquet, who helped give France four men in the round of 16 at Wimbledon for the first time since 1929, "because ... I don't see many people around."
His next opponent is another member of that rare quartet, No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who erased a two-set deficit, then saved a match point, en route to edging No. 18 John Isner of the United States 19-17 in a fifth set that lasted more than 2 hours all by itself.
"It's good to be alive," said Tsonga, now 6-0 in five-setters at the All England Club.
They played three sets before being halted because of darkness Saturday night and finished Sunday.
In other men's matches, No. 32 Lucas Pouille of France got past 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-1; 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych defeated 19-year-old Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1; No. 15 Nick Kyrgios eliminated No. 22 Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4 to set up a showdown against his pal Andy Murray, who is seeded No. 2 and won the 2013 title; and Jiri Vesely defeated No. 31 Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.
The 13th-seeded Kuznetsova advanced with a 6-7 (1), 6-2, 8-6 victory over No. 18 Sloane Stephens. Other women's winners included No. 21 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova. The woman who ended Williams' bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam in the U.S. Open semifinals last September, Roberta Vinci, failed to put up much of a challenge in a 6-3, 6-4 loss to No. 27 CoCo Vandeweghe.
Vandeweghe won 24 of 28 first-serve points and 14 of 17 points when she went to the net, improving to 11-1 on grass this season.
"Past month or almost two months," said Vandeweghe, a 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist, "I've been doing a good job of rising to the occasion."
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